Global leaders in the study of emerging contaminants, the stakeholders that make up the Regional Monitoring Program for Water Quality in San Francisco Bay (RMP) believe that preventing a pollution problem is safer and more cost-effective than cleaning one up. For this reason, the RMP focuses on monitoring contaminants of emerging concern, or CECs. Also referred to as emerging contaminants, these include any chemical that is not regulated or monitored and that has the potential to enter the environment and harm people or wildlife. Early identification of problem CECs and quick action to prevent their spread is the best way to protect water quality in San Francisco Bay.
Today, the RMP announces completion of a comprehensive revision to the CEC Strategy that guides monitoring and science in this focus area. The RMP first published a formal CEC Strategy in 2013 as part of a continuous effort to refine approaches for supporting the management of CECs in San Francisco Bay. Periodic revision of the Strategy is essential given the rapid evolution of the science surrounding emerging contaminants; this document is the first major revision of the RMP’s CEC Strategy.
The 2017 Revision to the RMP's CEC Strategy includes new management questions, changes to the tiered, risk-based prioritization framework that guides monitoring for specific contaminants and classes, and a multi-year plan to outline future priorities.
The RMP’s CEC Strategy and its forward-looking approach has allowed it to meet Bay pollution challenges effectively and efficiently. However, as the number of CECs rises, additional resources will allow the RMP to expand efforts to identify toxic contaminants before they harm the Bay.
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More than 100,000 chemicals have been registered or approved for commercial use in the US. For many of these chemicals, major information gaps limit evaluations of their potential risks, and environmental monitoring of these chemicals has not been required by regulatory agencies. Nevertheless, researchers and government agencies have begun to collect occurrence, fate, and toxicity data for a number of these chemicals.